The future of Recruitment & HR Tech: we need a reality check first

I absolutely love reading those breaking news type of headlines “The Recruitment industry is going to DIE”, “Robots will replace Recruiters by 2020” or “we no longer need HR, technology will be able to take it from here”. They genuinely make me laugh and I’ve recently seen a few funny posts by fellow Recruitment professionals wondering who on earth writes these articles. And the reality is that anyone really! Self proclaimed Career Advisors who never had a real job in their life, Marketing Consultants who have been asked to get more followers to specific accounts — I’m sure we can all name a few but they are rarely written by someone from the Recruitment industry.

Usually those articles have no substance and no real insight into what and how new technology actually affects the Recruitment & HR industry. It takes 10 or more minutes of your precious time a day to read fluffy keyword filled texts that eventually get forgotten in low attention land. But I’m not here to moan today about how difficult it is to get quality information, even on sites that are career or business oriented like LinkedIn. I’d love to share some personal thoughts on where Recruitment & HR technology is going.

Just to give you a heads up, I have worked in Recruitment, I know how difficult it is to balance sales targets with the expectations of delivering this magical unicorn service and knowing my stuff inside out.

I never dreamt of becoming a Recruitment professional, it was more of a coincidence that landed me in the staffing industry. Having previously worked extensively in marketing and with technology, I was fascinated to see how much technology hasn’t affected this industry and the so called old school techniques still do wonders for both clients and candidates. I honestly think there’s a good reason why so many big Recruitment brands have been built on cold calling and contingency services without the help of any fairy dust or robots.

I left my Recruitment job about a year ago to solely focus on creating something useful, something that solves fundamental problems faced by recruitment companies. Not just another productivity tool or a chatbot. It was a long journey and we are almost here to deliver software that was built by Recruiters for Recruiters; it will help to make more placements and to deliver a better and higher quality service to clients without sacrificing the relationship with candidates. Magic.

I’m not going to pretend to be the ultimate Recruitment or Technology Expert, but after spending the entire year speaking to Recruitment agencies and companies that use them, a few interesting points came up.

Innovation

Loads of people talk about innovative technology and there’s a HRTech start up everywhere you look these days. Many companies advertise their incredible ATS platforms, candidate experience and management tools and a quick lead generation magic box. The issue is that these tools barely integrate with each other, they usually don’t work with databases or infrastructure that companies already have. They are standalone systems that come with a hefty price tag attached — it’s for corporate (enterprise) they say.

One of the big pharma companies I was speaking to recently still use a system developed by an IT giant that looks almost like a dinosaur in this tap and swipe age. I was curious to find out why they haven’t upgraded to something more sophisticated and the answer was simple — their current technology still has to deliver a good ROI and investing in something new is expensive. So their HR & Recruitment department still uses Excel to manage candidate information as they move through the hiring process.

All of the innovation that Finance or other sectors are enjoying will catch up in Recruitment too, it just needs a slightly different approach by making tools work together and not against those companies.

Functionality

This amazing guy who has been a Project Manager all his life suddenly has a light bulb moment to develop software that revolutionises candidate skills and job matching. There are a few success stories of people trying to break the recruitment industry without actually working there. Spotting a solid business opportunity is great, the only problem that lies ahead is not consulting the industry itself.

Recruitment process is so multifaceted and even the most experienced Recruiters sometimes get it wrong when matching their candidate CVs to job requirements. It’s just an example of course, but I want to illustrate that there are so many “solutions” that don’t have the depth and true ability to solve recruitment related problems, because their Founders haven’t quite worked out how things work yet.

If you look at the industry as a whole, most of the technology is very one dimensional and looks at a small part of the entire hiring process. There’s still a lot of scope for developing technology that simulates the job of a 360 Recruiter including better candidate and job matching to present more relevant applications.

Robots

So far this is probably my favourite. There’s so much hype around Artificial Intelligence and Automation that people fear they will loose their jobs. Personally I haven’t really seen any software solutions that completely replace Recruiters or HR Managers. In fact you can barely see any solutions that have been developed specifically for this industry — they look more adapted from other industry technology and their applications.

The Recruitment & HR technology will take time to be developed and perfected before we can claim that Robots will replace everyone. Some of the tasks can be automated today and increasing productivity is highly welcomed in Recruitment or any business looking to hire people. Some solutions can support specific functions, but they are nowhere near replacing them completely. Unless of course there’s an alien invasion and they are better than us, humans.

What the Future holds

Recruitment industry is not going to go away anytime soon. According to The Recruitment and Employment Confederation, the industry has grown 9% from last year alone and is worth more than the food and beverage industry (£32.6bn) and advertising and market research industry (£16.9bn) put together. Needless to say there’s plenty of opportunity for innovation, but can robots generate as much?

I could go on about the state of technology in Recruitment forever, but this has already taken a long time. More posts to follow and I’d love to hear from anyone who has some thoughts about all of the points above; or maybe from someone who is about to loose their corporate job to robots for real.